Friday, November 27, 2015

Corbett signs regional pact to address Chesapeake Bay health

Gov. Corbett today joined governors from five neighboring states and the District of Columbia in Annapolis to sign a new pact to address environmental issues in the Chesapeake Bay.

Corbett signs regional pact to address Chesapeake Bay health



Gov. Corbett today joined governors from five neighboring states and the District of Columbia on Monday to sign a revised pact to address environmental issues in the Chesapeake Bay.

The Chesapeake Bay Agreement, first signed in 1983, brings together states in the region to find ways to support sustainable fisheries, healthy watersheds, land conservation and improved water quality,

This year executives from Delaware, West VIrginia and New York joined original signatories Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., in signing the pact. Headwaters of streams and rivers that flow into the Chesapeake Bay originate in those states.

“This agreement is a sensible way to approach improving both the water quality and the environment of a region that means so much to all of us,” Corbett said at a news conference in Annapolis. “I applaud the cooperative efforts of all bay watershed entities that have made this historic agreement possible.”

David Masur, executive director of PennEnvironment, says he is pleased the states have reached an agreement but cautions that it is only a paper plan now and that Pennsylvania is the number one source of pollution in the bay.

"We’re glad that there is a consensus that there needs to be steps taken to clean up the bay but the  proof will be in pudding, in actual steps taken to reduce emissions that end up in bay," he said. "That's been a hurdle for decades. States have to work harder to take comprehensive steps to have a cleaner bay."

Since 1985, Pennsylvania has directed more than $3.9 billion in grants, loans and program investments toward Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts and has continued to see a reduction in the three pollutants of concern: phosphorous, nitrogen and sediment, the Corbett administration said in a press release.

In the past three decades, the state has reduced nutrient and sediment deposits in the bay watershed by updating nitrogen and phosphorous limits in permits for wastewater treatment plants, issuing municipal stormwater system permits with nutrient planning requirements, and fostering a successful nutrient credit trading program.

At the same time, farms in Pennsylvania have reduced nitrogen pollution by over 13 million pounds per year. Nineteen percent of all nitrogen reductions made in restoring the Chesapeake Bay have been made by Pennsylvania’s agriculture community. Farmers have spent nearly $15 million to install equipment aimed at reducing waste and run off in streams, the administration said.

This is the fourth agreement in the program’s 30 year history. The first Chesapeake Bay Agreement was signed in 1983 by Gov. Dick Thornburgh. Governors Casey and Ridge signed the second and third agreements in 1987 and 2000 respectively.





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Commonwealth Confidential gives you regularly updated coverage of the state legislature, the governor and the workings of the state bureaucracy. It is written by Angela Couloumbis in the Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau, based in the statehouse, and by the newspaper's far-flung campaign reporters.

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